Comments : 3 Comments »
Tags: compact fountain pen, petit 1, pilot, pilot mini fountain pen, pilot petit 1
Categories : follow-up, fountain pen, mini pens
My first Esterbrook was an impulse purchase, a beat-up and well-loved blue number whose nib had, over time, been worn to its owner’s perfection. When I wrote with it, and the angle was right, it would be smooth as butter—but I wasn’t its original owner, and at times my writing would fall off that sweet spot. I needed to get an Esterbrook all my own, with a refubished body and a brand new nib.
I’m generally not a fan of pen bodies that put me in mind of bowling balls—and this pen is no exception. I have no doubt that this is the sort of design that tickles some people pink, but it’s making me feel toothpastey-green (that’s the scientific opposite color of pink, yeah?). It’s not my style. Nothing so bad that I wouldn’t use it; I’m just never going to take this pen with me and consider it a fashion accessory.
The pen I bought came nicely repaired, and with the allegedly easily broken plastic jewel on top replaced with a black metal button, the coating of which will rust off if left soaking in water. Oops.
I was advised, possibly by wizards, probably more likely by the man who sold it to me—who, if my notes are to be believed, would possibly be one Frank Tedesco— to get a 1555 Gregg nib, and recommended to draw figure 8s on a pane of glass. I didn’t have any spare glass available to draw on that wouldn’t get me in trouble, so I put off the task of personalizing the nib, which was a shame because it was a little scratchy and unsatisfying out of the box. Then one day, feeling inspired with a touch of insomnia, I decided to pull out my little Richard Binder nib smoothing kit to see what I could do.
Turns out what I could do was accidentally remove the very tip of the nib, you know, all that tipping material. And it turns out I could still salvage the nib from this disaster. I carefully consulted my Pilot italic nib, and after several tries I’ve ended up with a nice, velvety, fine sort of almost italic nib, perfectly suited to my angle of writing. The ink flow is just right, and the overall experience is one of writing to be savored. I can write fast if needed, but this pen is not intended to be a note-jotter; it shines best at a smooth, contemplative pace.
In the end, I’m glad for the mistake, because the pen writes better for me now than it did before, but I’m still a long way off from being paid money and entrusted with other people’s nibs. One day!
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: adventures in nib smoothing, diy nib grinding, esterbrook, esterbrook j double jewel, esterbrook j series, frank tedesco, gregg 1555 nib, j double jewel, j series, near disasters in nib grinding, nib smoothing, noodler's eel gruene cactus, pseudo italic
Categories : attempts at nib work, DIY, fountain pen
The design of the pen combines several of my most favorite things: compact, clear body, fountain pen, made in Italy. The only thing that could make it better is if it could dispense espresso through my skin into my blood stream while I write.
The body is a sturdy sort of resin something or other, and seems to hold up well in spite of making numerous unprotected trips in my pocket. It can be filled with standard short cartridges, or as an eyedropper pen with bottled ink. It even comes with its own glass eyedropper. The cap screws on to close, and presses onto the back to post. When closed, the pen is Fort Knox secure. This is not a pen that will unscrew in your pocket. The cap, when posted firmly, is pretty secure (though can be knocked loose), and makes the pen long enough for comfortable long-term writing. And my, is it ever comfy! I LOVE the thicker body barrel for writing.
Now, for a few negatives. This first one drives me crazy—condensation in the cap. Or ink in the cap. Or worse, BOTH. It happens often, and especially when I carry this pen in my jeans pocket. The pen is secure, so I’m not worried about this stuff getting out, it’s just annoying that it’s there at all.
The second BIG big negative is that I could not get a steady writing flow going right out of the box. It was crazy frustrating, and I tried everything I could think to do (besides take it back, because I would admit no defeat). At last beaten, I took the pen back to the ballroom, and escorted it (and some cash) over to Pendleton Brown to see if he could do something for it. And he did! It writes wonderfully now, a nice tactile smooth with an ink flow that never fails. And he hooked me up with some of his Waterman BlakWa ink mix, which I am currently in love with.
You might think, with these two major problems looming over it, that I might not like this pen. But fountain pens are funny things. Maybe it’s their offbeat nature. Maybe it’s a psychological attachment fueled by all the dough you fork over for pens like these. Who knows. But in spite of its problems, I love this little pen. I’m glad I got it, and I enjoy using it.
Unfortunately, I don’t see any clear versions of the Passaporto fountain pen at Speerbob’s, and none of the other colors are for the price I got mine at. If you’re looking for this pen at an unbeatable price, you might have to make the trek to a fountain pen supershow to get a good deal. Or scour the internet. Best of luck in your quest.
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: blakwa ink, blue-black ink, clear body, compact fountain pen, edc, mini fountain pen, mini pen, passaporto, passaporto fountain pen, stipula, stipula fountain pen, stipula passaporto, stipula passaporto fountain pen
Categories : fountain pen, mini pens, pen show
Here’s a few quick pictures for those of you curious about swapping out the nib of your Pilot Prera for the lovely italic nib on the Pilot Plumix. Possibly you want to make your handwriting fancier
or maybe you dropped the nib on a hard tile floor; whatever the reason, here’s how I did it.
I started with the Prera for this demonstration simply because it was closer to the camera when I started taking pictures. If you haven’t done this before, maybe start on the far cheaper Plumix (or Pilot Penmanship, if you’re looking to swap on an extra fine nib); the motion is the same. Hold the barrel in one hand. Hold the nib and feed with the other (I prefer putting my thumb under the feed and my index finger on top of the nib). Slowly pull the nib and feed out, and perhaps try gently twisting the barrel as you do so if it seems stiff. The nib and feed should come out, and you’re halfway done. If you started with the Plumix, keep the nib on hand and set the rest of the pen to the side.
Take the second pen, and do the same thing to get the feed and nib out. Though I swap the nibs, I like to keep the feeds with their original pen, but that’s probably not necessary.
Take the feed you want to put in the Prera and the nib you want to be on the Prera. Put the nib on top of the feed; the feed is notched on the top and sides in such a way that you’ll know when it’s on where it should be.
Hold the nib and feed together in one hand, the barrel in the other, and slide them together until they stop. From what I can tell, there’s no particular way the feed and nib have to line up with the barrel, so there’s no big worry. If you’ve done this all correctly, you should have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib. If you’ve done this incorrectly, I absolve myself of all responsibility.
Comments : 3 Comments »
Tags: change nib, change pilot prera nib, nib swap, pilot plumix, pilot prera, pilot prera plumix nib, switcheroo
Categories : DIY, fountain pen, Ink Drop Soup, pen, this is not a review
I’ve been told before that I need to own a Waterman, but the pen stores I frequent typically didn’t carry them and no particularly attractive model was able to catch my eye, thus instigating an e-commerce fueled need-to-buy. Even when an entry model Waterman finally popped up in my local pen store, I was reluctant to get it. “What’s the deal with the Watermans?” I asked skeptically, taking one out of the box. “This is an old man pen. What would I want with one of these?”
“I’ll make you a deal.”
“Phileas? That’s an old man name.”
“I’ll make you a really great deal.”
One really great deal later, here I am with another pen that looks like I swiped it from a geriatric stockbroker.
The Phileas is a peculiar mix of class and annoying minor flaws. Lets start with the good: the body has a nice weight to it but isn’t too heavy, and feels pretty nicely balanced.
The charcoal-colored plastic feels smooth, almost luxurious (though the words “It doesn’t feel cheap!” come to mind, I don’t think that quite conveys nearly the compliment I intend). Yes, by the way, charcoal-colored—for some reason it continues to surprise me that the pen isn’t black.
My biggest issues: the seams palpable on opposite sides of the black plastic grip—
—and the way the back of the gold art deco design accent doesn’t fully come together.
Why is that? Love the design accents; irked by these big flaws.
The third and final flaw: all these ghost starts that proliferate particularly when I print. Taking to the problem an eye loupe and the knowledge I gleaned from sitting in on a Richard Binder nib workshop, I’ve come to suspect the culprit is butt cheeks. What do I mean by such offensive language, you ask? It’s a problem, apparently not uncommon in some fancy pens, where in the quest to make a REALLY SMOOTH pen, they go too smooth, rounding the inside edge of the slit too much, so that the end of the nib resembles a little metallic bottom. This causes the ink to want to stay where it’s narrower, instead of going to the bottom of the cheeks onto the page. Here, a diagram from Richard:
Once it’s writing, everything is golden for the most part (as long as I stick to cursive). The nib is neither too wet nor too dry, and has a solidly tactile feel across the page. I detect an occasional slight resistance on such backstrokes as crossing my T’s at certain angles, which probably has something to do with the fact that the nib looks like it was aligned inside of a Salvador Dali painting.
But for the most part, the loveliness of the typical writing experience is worth persevering through the ghosting and such, until I finally get around to fixing up the nib.
Waterman Phileas: definitely enjoy…whether or not that enjoyment is enough to inspire future (and or perhaps more expensive) Waterman purchases remains to be seen.
If anyone knows a good online retailer, send me a link. Otherwise I think your best bet is to come pick one up from Office Supplies & More, my local pen store (maybe I’ll convince them to take some along to the Ohio Pen Show).
Comments : 9 Comments »
Tags: medium nib, noodler's dragon's napalm, phileas, phileas fountain pen, waterman, waterman fountain pen, waterman phileas, waterman phileas fountain pen
Categories : fountain pen, pen
Picture it: my very first pen show. No idea what I’m even looking for. Lot of cool pens. One of the pen makers asks me if there’s any particular kind of pen I’m looking for, and it hits me: dark purple fountain pen. At the time, I had yet to see any in existence. And it just so happens that this particular pensmith is Alan Shaw. He had done some work recently with dark purple, and he offered to send me a sample.
This is not just purple, my friends, but sparkle-infused depths-of-deep-space-hydrogen-clouds purple. If fountain pens were magic wands, then this would be grade-A wizarding material. Thus I ordered my first custom-made fountain pen.
The finished product did not disappoint. It’s big, heavy, and beautiful. I ordered the Gilbert model with steel nib, which has rare earth magnets in the cap, making the cap easy and secure to close and post. Though, in my experience, posting the cap creates a serious Dolly Parton effect—top heavy, unwieldy, singing country music and spawning theme parks.
Let’s take a picture moment to appreciate the material of this body. It’s smooth, it’s enchanting—
It takes standard international cartridges / converter. It’s a decent nib, the kind I’ve seen before on other custom-made body kit-nib pens.
Mine’s a little on the dry side, very nice for drawing, but I’ll probably work the nib (when I get a little better at that) to be more juicy. Will keep you posted on that.
The pen is an absolute delight, and Alan was very easy to work with. The pen came in a nice box, with a converter and a bunch of cartridges. First custom fountain pen is a definite success.
Comments : 3 Comments »
Tags: alan shaw, black ink, custom fountain pen, custom made fountain pen, custom pen, dark purple fountain pen, fountain pen, gilbert model, purple fountain pen, shaw fountain pen, shaw pens, shaw pens gilbert model
Categories : custom pen, fountain pen, pen
At a certain point it becomes difficult to justify buying more demonstrator-style fountain pens with iridium-point nibs—you have so many, no matter how cool this new one seems, and eventually you’d like to afford such luxuries as name brand ramen, and cereal that comes in boxes instead of bags. That’s what the wishlist is for—make sure you save it in a prominent location in the browsers of all your family and friends. I did, and now I can thank my parents for the very-happy-birthday addition of the Monteverde Artista Crystal fountain pen to my arsenal.
The smooth resin body has just enough weight to it to feel well-made, but not enough to weigh you down. But it will be collecting fingerprints and smudge marks worse than I collect pens. You’ve been warned.
The aesthetic is unquestionably classy, and the translucent spirals of the included converter (also takes cartridges) is one of the beautiful little things that sets the Artista over the top.
Why a clear feed? Because WHY NOT—it’s a wonderful echo of the converter (just as the silver on the converter nicely mirrors the grip and nib). It’s different without being ostentatious.
I don’t know much about these nibs, except that I can’t really think of a time they’ve disappointed me, and this is no exception. A medium that writes well on a variety of papers, from Clairefontaine to the cheap printer paper I’m writing this on from work—and it’s neither too wet nor too dry. The only time I’ve had any ink flow problem is when combining cheap paper and extreme angles, but the problem there isn’t flow, it’s that the tip of the nib where both tines meet isn’t in physical contact with the paper.
I’m very satisfied with this pen—it’s a great intermediate pen. Once you’ve acquired a few beginner level fountain pens, and you’re ready to fall face-first down the rabbit hole, throwing money all the way, this is a pen worth adding to your
Comments : 6 Comments »
Tags: artista crystal fountain pen, medium nib, monteverde, monteverde artista crystal, monteverde artista crystal fountain pen, monteverde fountain pen, noodler's squeteague ink, turquoise body
Categories : fountain pen, pen
Think of India. What are you picturing? If you’re picturing food, saris, or stereotypes, SHAME ON YOU. You should be picturing fountain pens. And not the kind that are so uselessly, ludicrously expensive (five figure price tag, anyone?) that no mortal would dare write anything with it, short of the One Perfect Novel. No, we’re talking about sensible pens, the people’s pens, that strike that perfect balance between affordable and reliable.
I tend to shy away from eyedropper pens—I’m the paranoid type. I like to have as many safety mechanisms as possible between me and a potential ink spill. This is living on the edge for me, as far as pens go.
I’ve given this pen no particularly special treatment—it’s been hobnobbing with all my plebeian pens, bouncing around various pockets, pencil cases, and bags. It seems fine so far. This is a school pen, after all, so it’s probably built with an eye toward withstanding a fair amount of abuse. The cap closes with a nice snap, posts securely, pops open when needed, and does a good job keeping the pen from drying out.
The only major issue in design is the conspicuous lack of an ink window. The only clue you have that you’re running out of ink is when the ink starts leaking out in big blobby drops when you write (a feature of eyedropper pens, apparently—when the ink gets low enough, the heat of your hand holding the pen makes the air expand inside the pen, forcing out drops of ink). An ink window would be great, provided it’s flush with the body of the pen (I’m not a fan of windows that are recessed or that jut out).
What the “C” signifies, I’m not quite sure (chitinous? charming? cantankerous? cool?), but it writes like a fine nib. Smooth, this pen is not. I’m hardly in danger of putting too many loopies in my cursive. But I wouldn’t call it scratchy either. Scratchy means unpleasant to write with. This nib makes you think, it imposes a deliberate consideration as you write with such a hard and hardy nib. This is tactile to the max. It’s perfect for a school pen, especially one made in a tradition devoted to good handwriting. You don’t want your schoolwork to be rushed. Take your time, think about what you’re doing, that’s what this pen is for. And the fine nib is suitable for all kinds of paper, from Clairefontaine to cheap printer paper, from Mead to the typically fountain-pen-unfriendly Moleskine.
I don’t know how hardy this pen will prove to be, how crack-resistant the resin will end up being over time, but for now, this is a great little workhorse pen that I’ll be keeping in inked-up rotation.
For those of you used to a JetPens timeframe of delivery, getting this pen will be a culture shock (unless you live much closer to India than I do), because the source of this pen is a guy in India. It takes a few weeks. But it’s worth it!
Comments : 10 Comments »
Tags: c nib, chelpark, chelpark terminator, fountain pen, fountain pen revolution, india fountain pen, noodler's bulletproof black, terminator fountain pen
Categories : eyedropper pen, fountain pen, pen
I’d waffled around on the Cross Spire for a while—it looked neat, but the standard diamond-dimpling just wasn’t my thing. But as soon as I saw the Red Lacquer model come in at Office Supplies and More, I said hold that hot tamale, I’ll be back on payday.
Sleek. Slim. Shiny. What more do you want, you ingrate? The cap screws on to close and to post, and takes less than a full revolution to do so. Convenience-wise, this saves time, but be warned: this makes it a little too easy to open. I have, on occasion, opened up my Nomadic Wise-Walker bag to find the cap clipped to a pocket, and the rest of the pen laying down in the bottom of the pocket, having come unscrewed of its own volition.
Undoubtedly, this has got to be the thinnest fountain pen I own. The Kaweco Liliput or perhaps the Ohto Rook are the only others that comes close, but they are not standard length pens like the Spire. I’m not bothered by the thinness of the barrel, I just have to be mindful if I get in a blaze of writing that I don’t seize up my hand like I’m trying to bore through the table, one letter at a time. When I get like that, pens this thin will be uncomfortable to write with for extended periods of time. But if you prefer thin pens, you won’t need to be mindful at all (just don’t be mindless either, then you won’t be able to think of anything to write).
Visually, I wouldn’t change a thing about the grip. It looks so elegant. Practically speaking, however, having such a small grip adds one more point to pay attention to when I’m writing—this is not one of those comfortable-at-all-angles-grips for me. Let’s keep in mind though that I hold my pens like a broken-wristed cave-dweller; the grip isn’t a big deal, but it does take me an extra second to make sure I’m holding it in a nice, comfortable way.
The nib is 18k gold, and the pen takes special Cross Slim cartridges (standard international cartridges are too fat to fit in the barrel). I’m a little disappointed about the cartridges thing, as it means I’ll have to either refill the tiny cartridges or find a converter if I want to use any other kind of ink. Compatibility with standard model cartridges is something I like to see to draw people in to fountain pens (one less obstacle to convenience, having standard cartridges), but let’s get real; this isn’t an entry-level pen. This game isn’t being played where cartridges mean a diddly-dang-doodle; this is an object of art and luxury, and if that means having bizarre proprietary cartridges then so much the better for Cross. The pen writes fine (the kind of lines you’d need for everyday regular-world writing), and it writes well; it’s the sort of pen I’d use at work, if I worked on serious and important business things.
This isn’t a pen you need. It’s a pen you want. Come up with an important occasion, and reward yourself with one of these (unless you hate the color red). I’d recommend trying to find one in person, if you can, and if not, start bugging your favorite online pen store to carry the lacquered version of the Spire. You could hit up the Cross website, if you’re not interested in saving any money in this acquisition. Or you could try poking around online for deals—a quick, bleary-eyed search found a 30% discount at Pens & Leather. Let me know if you find a better deal and I’ll pass it on; given that I’m tired and I already have one, I’m not particularly motivated to sleuth out the best deal on this pen right now.
Comments : 6 Comments »
Tags: black ink, cross, cross fountain pen, cross spire, cross spire fountain pen, cross spire titian red lacquer fountain pen, f nib, red lacquer, spire, spire fountain pen, titian red lacquer
Categories : fountain pen, pen